So, we now know our first game of the season will be at Fulham. by Dan Smith
To whet the appetite, I was going to review how we fared in these opening weekend matches, but in truth our recent record hasn’t been great. In fact, in the last decade we have managed just three wins
So, here’s what I’ll do.
I like a top 10 list. So, let’s explore 10 of the worst opening weekend experiences, getting us excited for the new campaign but also a warning not to take anything for granted at Craven Cottage.
Let’s save the best until last?
10 – Arsenal 1-1 Villa 2006/2007
As the Emirates hosted its first ever Premiership game, there were countless stories of how other clubs took their time in settling into their new homes. Melberg scored the first League goal at the stadium and we needed a Gilberto Silva 85th minute equaliser to spare our blushes.
It was a sign of things to come, Middlesbrough, Everton, Newcastle, Portsmouth and West Ham would all record results in North London that season.
As new staff struggled to understand my friends order of a cheese burger with bacon I missed Highbury, sat sadly round the corner. It’s okay though as we had moved stadiums to compete with the likes of Bayern Munich. Right?
9- Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal 11/12
In theory a point away from home isn’t the end of the world, yet it was just the overall mood of the club. Days earlier we had sold Fabregas and it was confirmed Nasri would be joining Man City.
Despite knowing this all summer, we hadn’t bothered to replace either, our board were actually going to try and get away without spending that money we had just received. It would take an 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford to do that.
It would be the start of a tradition, Arsenal starting a season not prepared. Our new signing Gervinho missed a sitter and then got sent off for raising his hands to Joey Barton. Some reports say that Barton’s goading cost him a move to the Emirates! Every cloud?
Getting this squad into the top 4 was one of Arsene Wenger ‘s greatest achievements..
8- Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland 12/13
Again, it’s what a result represents. When Van Persie joined Man United I remember watching a press conference wanting to hear hope from our manager. I vividly recall him smiling as he told us we had already technically brought replacements for our top scorer in the shape of Giroud and Podolski, contradicting earlier statements. So not a great day to then waste several chances and in the dying moments Giroud misses a sitter on his debut.
A day later …. Van Persie was scoring at Old Trafford.
7- Sunderland 1-0 Arsenal 2000-2001
We actually played okay but sometimes that makes it more painful. Parlour and Henry in particular wasted decent chances, former Gunner Niall Quinn scored against us and Vieira got sent off, adding to the narrative he wanted out of English Football due to officials. We would have too many days like this on our travels that season, only winning 5 League games away from home.
6- Arsenal 2-4 Norwich 1992-93
Just like Fulham this season, Norwich started as one of the favourites for relegation. So, imagine how angry you would be if Arsenal were 2-0 up after an hour but managed to lose 4-2. Well that’s what we did in 92 at home!
We had our famous old back 5 to close out the game but suddenly Seaman was missing crosses and Adams was slipping all over the place. It was like the whole ground panicked at 2-2 and the Canaries went for our throat.
5 Arsenal 0-3 Coventry city 1993-94
Arsenal had been warned 12 months previously what could happen if you underestimate your opponents but hadn’t learnt their lesson. To be fair two of Micky Quinn’s goals were 2 mins apart meaning we had gone from trailing 1-0 to 3 within a blink of an eye.
Yes, that’s the same guy off TalkSport who often refers to his Hat-trick at Highbury. By the end we were so shell shocked we were resorting to long balls, making a mockery of pre-season suggestions that George Graham would be introducing more flair.
4 Arsenal 0-2 Man City 2018-19
To be a big club you have to think like a big club. So, it was horrible to hear Gooners accepting that Unai Emery would lose his first two games because ‘it would take time’. Man City out played us, as much as they did in the same fixture under Arsene Wenger. The only difference being he was now asking Cech to try and pass the ball from the back which, clearly, he couldn’t do.
Some Gooners who had built their YouTube views on abusing the Greatest Manager in our history failed to explain how things had improved. In fact, they still haven’t.
3 Arsenal 0-2 West Ham 2015-2016
Many thought that Cech was the signing that could make us title challengers, so this was the equivalent of someone putting a pin into our balloon. This started the ‘agent Cech’ theories as he made two mistakes, we didn’t see him make at Chelsea. You waited all game for Arsenal to put any pressure on the West Ham goal, but it never came.
2 Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool 2016-17
You see the score line and you think, wow we. lost a 7-goal thriller, that’s not the end of the world? In reality we were 4-1 down at one point which is made worse by us hurting our own chances by being ill prepared for the new season.
Arsene Wenger was way too generous in how much time he gave players off who played at the Euros, forcing him to play an inexperienced defence, only to then point out how we lacked experience. Considering we finished 1 point behind our opponents in the race for 4th, this result cost us.
1 Arsenal 1-3 Villa 2013/14
Giroud scored after 6 minutes and, with us being linked with the likes of Suarez, just for a moment I believed the club had ambition. That was the last time I believed this.
By full time we had conceded two penalties and had Koscielny sent off, leaving the fans to politely ask us to spend some money. You could argue it pressured the board to buy Ozil?
Which is your worst opening day of the season memory?
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